Fava Bean Crostini with Garlic Scape Pesto

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I recently moved to a new house and, glory of all glories, there is a weekend farmers market about half a mile away. My haul this first weekend was relatively small, I mostly went to scope out the lay of the land and get a feel for the market, I couldn’t be more pleased with my new surroundings. I went with one of my roommates who, later in the day, proclaimed the tomato he had bought to be the best he’d ever tasted, so I look forward to many delicious fruits an veggies to come.

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I’d never worked with fava beans before this dish, so I wanted something simple that would showcase their flavor but also refined enough to make the double shelling process worth it. I’d also never worked with garlic scapes before (and I’m not sure if what I bought were garlic scapes) and I’d always seen recipes for garlic scape pesto and I thought fava beans and garlic scapes would pair beautifully in a crostini.

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Toasted baguette, slathered with two beautiful green spreads and topped with a shave of cheese. A simple dish perfect for having people over on a hot summer night or wowing your roommates and inaugurating a new kitchen.

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Fava Bean Crostini with Garlic Scape Pesto
a combination of this and this

Ingredients
1 baguette
2 1/2 pounds fava beans in pods
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1 (2- to 3-ounce) piece Pecorino Romano cheese
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds
~1/2 cup olive oil

Method
1) Remove outer shells from the fava beans. Bring very salty water to a boil and blanch for two minutes. Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, and remove secondary shells.
2) Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add shelled favas and mash with a fork, potato masher, or pastry blender until desired texture has been achieved. Add the chiffonade of mint, incorporate, and set aside.
3) Finely dice the stems of the garlic scapes. You may not be able to use the whole stem because of how fibrous they may be towards the bottom. Add the chopped scapes, parmesan, any small amount of chopped mint you may have left over, and slivered almonds to the bowl of a food processor. Turn food processor on and gently stream olive oil in until desired consistency has been reached.
4) Slice baguette on the diagonal, as many slices as you want/need. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet in a 400° F oven for 5-7 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
5) Take a piece of the toasted baguette, spread first with the garlic scape pesto and then with the fava bean mixture. Top with a shave of pecorino-romano cheese, which you can make using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin slicer.

Bad Day Prevention Sandwich

Sandwich from Heaven

I know it’s been quiet on the blog for quite some time. I’m not going to make any excuses, instead I’m going to share this glorious sandwich with you. It’s late, I just got home from school, and I was making my lunch for tomorrow. When I came across some forlorn looking cream cheese in the fridge I knew what I had to do!

Summer vacations with my dad’s side of the family always took place at a lake resort in Minnesota. One of the great delicacies of these vacations was salami with cream cheese spread on it and rolled up. This sandwich harkens me back to that and I am already looking forward to eating it.

Bad Day Prevention Sandwich

Ingredients
2 slices of bread, toasted to perfection (I used whole wheat)
4 slices salami (I used pepper-crusted)
small handful arugula
cream cheese

Method
Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread. Lay salami on top of cream cheese on one slice, lay arugula on top of cream cheese on the other slice. Put slices together and cut as desired.

I know it seems simple to share a sandwich recipe, but that’s about all I’ve been cooking lately. Also, sorry for the crummy photo, food styling for PhotoBooth is hard!

Cooking is Hard Work!

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I recently undertook my biggest single cooking endeavor to date: a co-worker’s wedding shower. This was difficult not only because it was dinner for 30 people, but also because I was cooking for some of my favorite people and I wanted them to know how much I cared for them via the food that I cooked.

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In order to display my love for these people (especially Lisa and Cameron, the brides-to-be) I cooked as much of the food from scratch as possible. And cook from scratch I did! There are too many recipes to put them all here, so look below for photos and links!

The hors d’oeuvres

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Zucchini Fritters

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Jalepeno Poppers

and Cheese Straws

Main Course and Side Dishes

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Brisket

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Hamburger Buns

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Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad

Also there but not pictured:
Barbecue Sauce
Summer Corn Soup (I served it chilled)
Basil and Mint Melon Salad
Ranch Dressing for a lovely green salad

For dessert we had…
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Red Velvet Cupcakes and Lime Bars

All in all the feast was a huge success and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!

Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Basil Green Sauce

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‘What an odd recipe!’ you might be thinking to yourself. Well, despite an odd name this dish is delicious. ‘But why pineapple and basil?’ you may ask. Foodie Fights! I would reply. Yes everyone, my very first blogging competition!

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As I’ve already proven on this blog, I love enchiladas, and although it was not the first dish my mind jumped to for the competition they turned out better than I could have expected. I have been wanting to try making green enchiladas for a while and basil seemed like the perfect way to make the sauce extra green! Sadly, of course, I wasn’t thinking when I added chili powder to the sauce, so it’s not really that green, but the lightness and spice of a green enchilada sauce is there, and this time it has the added flavor of basil. Although I was a little nervous about just throwing basil in willy-nilly it really did upgrade enchiladas to a summer dish and it complemented the sauce really well.

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And that other ingredient, pineapple? Well, you wouldn’t normally put pineapple in enchiladas either, but when my dear friend Sarah swore by a recipe for pineapple-black bean enchiladas I knew I had a match made in heaven. Enchiladas are sometimes a time-consuming dish to make, but they aren’t difficult. The flavor combination of the black beans, pineapple, red pepper, and onion was delicious, the softness of everything and the combining flavors of the peppers, onion, and pineapple together was really surprisingly wonderful, especially when compared to the bright flavor of the sauce.

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The sauce does take some time to make, but you could make it on a weekend and refrigerate or even freeze it until needed. Green sauces keep color really well if/when frozen, so both the tomatillos and basil would maintain their lovely verdant appeal even if you made the sauce in advance.

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Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Basil Green Sauce
adapted from here and here

Ingredients

Green Enchilada Sauce
1 pound peeled and washed tomatillos
1 medium white onion (coarsely chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic (minced)
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon mild chili powder (next time I would use spicy roasted chiles to achieve spice and maintain green color)
1 4oz can diced green chilies
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup packed basil leaves

Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion (chopped)
1 medium red bell pepper (chopped)
1 medium pineapple (peeled and finely diced)
1 15oz can black beans (drained)
1 4oz can chopped green chiles
8 whole wheat flour tortillas (taco size)
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro/basil mixture (for garnish)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (for garnish)

Method

Sauce
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, place the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the broth, tomatillos, cumin, chili powder (or spicy roasted chilies) and green chilies and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover, continue cooking until the tomatillos are soft (about 30 minutes). Cool until room temperature. At this point, you may refrigerate sauce for later or freeze. When ready, process sauce with blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Right when you are about the blend the sauce add the basil leaves and blend sauce until smooth.

Enchiladas
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove the edible flesh from the pineapple and dice it fine. To this bowl add the black beans and green chilies. Let the flavors meld while you dice the onion and pepper.

Saute the onion and pepper with the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until they are tender and the onion is translucent. Add the onion/pepper mix to the pineapple/black bean mixture.

Assembly
Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish so that the enchiladas don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Taking your tortillas one at a time, dip them in the remaining sauce, spoon them full of the pineapple/black bean filling, roll it up, and place it seam side down into the pan. Repeat until pan is full. Pour enough remaining sauce into the pan to submerge the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with sour cream, fresh cilantro or basil, lime wedges, or whatever else you’d like!

Enjoy!

The Foodie Fights Competition has begun! Vote below!

Who Won Battle Pineapple Basil?(surveys)

Soft Shell Crabs Almondine

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Soft shell blue crabs are a seasonal specialty that are only available in the late spring/early summer when blue crabs shed their hard outer shells but before their new ones are fully formed. They are quite expensive if you are going to order them in a restaurant, but they are quite easy to make at home! Soft shell crabs are one of my dad’s absolute favorite foods and we usually have them for his birthday. Unfortunately, there were other things going on for his birthday this year so we decided to have them for Father’s Day instead!

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You can buy soft shell crabs at many seafood stores, although you may want to call ahead and reserve them because when they are in season they are really popular! One crab is enough for smaller appetites like me and my mom but my dad and brother can easily knock back two, so buy accordingly. Some people are intimidated by cooking soft shell crabs at home because they are a mess to clean, however if you ask nicely they will clean them for you at the fish market.

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The recipe itself couldn’t be easier, so the only hurdle is convincing yourself that you can do it! Each of the steps in the recipe are so simple, but the result is so delicious! Please go out and buy some soft shell crabs for a loved one (or yourself) today!

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Soft Shell Crabs Almondine

Ingredients
1-2 soft shell crabs per person

note- if you buy crabs that have been previously frozen you can soak them in some milk to help them plump back up.

1 1/2 cups flour
1-2 TBS Creole or Old Bay seasoning
butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Method
1) Mix together flour and Creole/Old Bay seasoning on a plate.
2) Rinse crabs and set on a dry paper towel. Don’t dry them off because the water will be all that helps the flour coating stick to the crabs.
3) One by one dredge the crabs in the flour mix, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies on both sides. When finished, place the crabs on a clean, dry cookie sheet.
4) Once all of the crabs have been dredged melt enough butter to thoroughly coat the bottom of a large saute pan. If you want to cook all the crabs at once you may need to have 2 pans going at the same time.
5) When the butter has melted and the pan is good and hot place the crabs in the pan top side down. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
6) Flip the crabs after 5 minutes, adding more butter as needed. Once you have flipped the crabs, add the almonds (distributing evenly if you’re using two pans). Cook the second side for five minutes, minding that the almonds get nice and toasty but not burnt.
7) Serve with a wedge of lemon and some coleslaw and enjoy this quintessential summer treat!

Lemon Mint Granita (with a secret ingredient!)

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For Father’s Day I wanted a light refreshing dessert and when I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew this would be perfect! Even better, Deb suggested using limoncello which my mom just happens to make and store in our freezer!

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The combination of lemon and mint, with a slight kick from the limoncello (I only used a 1/2 cup because I wanted to make sure that the granita would freeze properly) is incredibly refreshing and perfect on a summer night, even if it isn’t so warm out. Using the hollowed out lemons makes for a lovely presentation and it is pretty easy if you employ both a grapefruit knife (bent, serrated blade) and a grapefruit spoon (serrated tip) to completely clean out the lemon.

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The freshness of the mint and the tartness of the lemon all brought together with a little liquer and a little sugar, ugh, to die for! So, without further ado:

Lemon-Mint Granita
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
4 lemons
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup limoncello
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
30 mint leaves (a handful)

Method
1) Slice the tops off the lemons (and a little bit off the bottom so they sit up for serving) and remove all of the pulp and pith from the inside using a grapefruit knife for the primary work and a grapefruit spoon for all the clean up. Do this over a bowl so as to lose as little juice as possible. If you are using the empty lemon shells for serving: place them in the freezer so they can firm up.

2) Pluck 30 or so mint leaves and throw them and the lemon innards into a blender and blend it within an inch of its life (about 1 minute). You want it to be so that the mint is tiny little flecks. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes so that the flavors can meld.

3) Pour the lemon-mint puree into a fine mesh sieve and extract as much liquid out of it as possible. You don’t want to have a chunky granita, so it’s ok if a little mint gets through, but don’t let anything else pass you by!

4) Add to the lemon-mint juice the water and limoncello (if you’re using it). Mix and add sugar 1 TBS at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.

5) Pour this wonderful mixture into a baking pan, making sure that the liquid doesn’t stand more than 1 inch deep (so that it doesn’t take too long to freeze).

6) Put the pan in the freezer. Break up the semi-frozen liquid after about an hour and then leave it undisturbed to freeze the rest of the way, about 2-3 hours.

7) When ready to serve break the granita into little pieces/flakes by raking back on it with a fork. Spoon the little crystals into the lemon cups or serving cups and eat immediately! Enjoy the brain freeze!

Chicken Paprikash

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Chicken Paprikash is another traditional Hungarian dish that is popular in my family, but unlike lecso we don’t only make it when my grandmother is in town. While it is a hot dish my family loves it all year round and we make it for all kinds of special occasions; I often request it for my birthday dinner.

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The key to this dish, as the name would suggest, is really good paprika. Good HUNGARIAN paprika, none of this spanish stuff. As the only seasoning other than salt in this dish you want to have a paprika that is neither too sweet, spicy, or smoky and the Pride of Szeged has always been the paprika of choice at my house.

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With a delicious sauce thickened with sour cream and served with some spätzle and green beans it is a delicious dish that takes some time to prepare but is not difficult. Give it a try some Sunday night and I know you will love it!

Chicken Paprikash
A recipe from my grandmother (and slightly adapted by my mother)

Ingredients
2 1/2 – 3 lbs of bone-in, skin on chicken breasts and thighs
3 TBS fat of your choice (a good Hungarian would use lard, we use vegetable oil)
3 large onions, diced
3 heaping TBS paprika
2 tsp salt
a splash of water (if needed)
1 cup sour cream
3 TBS flour

Method
Place diced onions in a large soup pot and saute in fat until golden. Remove from heat and add paprika. Put back on heat and add chicken pieces (skin side down) so they are nestled in the onions. Let cook covered. Stir occasionally, making sure there is enough liquid in the pot, add up to a 1/2 cup of water if it looks too dry. Simmer covered until done, flipping the chicken when you think you’re about half way done. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside, removing the skin if desired.

Add to the pot a combination of 1 cup sour cream and 3 TBS flour, cook on low until sauce has thickened to desired level. Serve chicken and spätzle (or other starch) covered in the delicious sauce. Enjoy!